The League to Save Lake Tahoe has a lot of explaining to do.
For the past five years it's hosted an annual Oscar de la Renta fashion show at the Fritz estate on Lake Tahoe's west shore. The event has raised anywhere between $250,000 and $500,000 a year for the organization and has been held for almost 40 years.
Meanwhile, for the past three years, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has been chasing after property owner Tamara Fritz, trying to resolve multiple code infractions including an illegal expansion of Fritz's pier and unauthorized installation of additional boating facilities - specifically a second boat lift.
For most of the time the TRPA was issuing multiple cease and desist orders against Fritz, the League and Sierra Club were suing the agency to require additional protection for Lake Tahoe before allowing any more piers, buoys and boat facilities.
In September 2010, when a federal judge ruled in favor of the League and Sierra Club regarding the limited expansion of piers and boat facilities, Fritz's illegally expanded pier and unauthorized boat facilities were already built. TRPA staff recorded them in July of 2010.
And in August of 2010, 640 people paid $350 a head to attend the League's annual fundraiser at the property. That's about $224,000 in the League's coffers to support its mission of "protecting, restoring, and advocating for the ecosystem health and scenic beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin."
Whether or not Fritz willfully ignored TRPA regulations regarding new shorezone structures is not the point. Whether or not the League knew about the illegal construction while profiting from an event hosted at the property is also not the point.
The point is the League, when confronted with the pier expansion, showed no outrage or concern - an odd stance for an organization with few qualms about voicing outrage and concern in public and in the courts.
Shorezone structures "disturb fisheries and vegetation, create visual clutter along the shoreline, increase the risk of invasive species introduction, promote algal growth, and inhibit public access to and along the Lake," according to the League and Sierra Club suit.
The suit makes no mention of how shorezone structures also provide an excellent backdrop for fashion shows few locals are able to afford.
Instead of showing concern over the pier expansion, Executive Director Rochelle Nason defended Fritz, saying that she had "done a great deal for Lake Tahoe and for the arts at Lake Tahoe."
If that's the going rate to justify illegal construction at Lake Tahoe, then the arts may see a rash of interest from local developers and lakefront owners.
Or, maybe that's the going rate to earn the support of an organization that loudly proclaims it is only interested in what is best to "Keep Tahoe Blue."
In this instance, it seems the League is most interested what's best for its bottom line and for those who can afford to buy its support.
Perhaps the organization should change its slogan to "Keep Tahoe Elitist (and Hypocritical)."